A chance encounter
Last week I stopped in during retail. (What? I’m not allowed to buy my own beer?) A man sat at the counter, open bottle of beer next to him.
Greg introduced us: he had taken Best in Show at AWOG recently, and as such we would be brewing the winning beer soon. As he poured me a sample I asked, “What style is it?” Then, quickly: “Wait, don’t tell me.”
I’m not going to say I was wildly wrong, but only if you consider “a style commonly associated with continental Europe” to be somewhat hitting the mark. And yes, I’m being purposefully vague. Myst’ree, friends. Myst’ree.
A search for redemption
I’ve written in the past about how I wish I had more blind tastings. We did a semi-blind tasting during a night of Risk. Last night I went to ABV, and asked a friend what he had ordered for his second beer. “La Fin Du Monde”, he said, to which I replied “I love that beer! But… I never order it.” There’s always something I haven’t had, or which catches my eye more. And so a beer I really like goes undrunk.
In which a plan is concocted
I wanted a pure blind tasting. I didn’t want to know what the beer was, what brewery made it. I didn’t want to know the style or even the color. Give me a glass and I’ll drink it.
I went to the Village Beer Merchant and walked up to the cooler of single bottles. I looked away, never having seen what was inside, and reached in. I brought it up to the counter and, looking up so as to not look at the bottle, asked the cashier to put it in a bag so I couldn’t see it.
Sometimes I worry I’m a bit of a handful.
In which a plan is enacted
I interrupted my wife’s watching of The Voice (I don’t much care for the kid in the hat but they’re all very talented) to tell her she had to pour a beer for me. And I would be closing my eyes so if she could put it in my outstretched hand that would be great.
Nah, not a handful at all.
The initial impression
The aroma: hops. I think I have a pale ale. (My wife thought it smelled of peaches, and then hops) I took a sip: yes, hops, so many hops. Is this… Centennial? I think I’ve had this before, or at least I’ve tasted something very similar. Stone Ruinination, perhaps (Ruination 2.0?). I like it, though I’d have to be in the mood for such a palate wrecker. Because damn, this is a bitter beer. Almost verging on unpleasantly so, actually, though not quite.
I’m going to say this is classified as an IPA. It’s way too bitter to be a pale ale, though that’s me saying how I think the brewery classifies it: if it was labeled as a pale ale I wouldn’t hem and haw. I’m no longer thinking the primary hop is centennial: thanks to Frank I know how it tastes, and it isn’t like this. There’s a hint of juicy fruit from a citra or galaxy before the pacific northwest construction vehicle comes tearing through the forest like a scene in Ferngully.
Adding in sight
I took a selfie, because of course I did, and as I put the glass down I saw it was pale. I take a look: it has chunks in it! Oh. Perhaps it was on lees. No matter: yeast has b vitamins.
I realize I haven’t given any thought to the yeast strain. American, I’d say, because if I taste any Belgian spiciness it’s very, very well hidden. That plus the hop bitterness says this was bottled from the tear ducts of a bald eagle.
I had chosen Backseat Berner from Otter Creek, and was immediately delighted. It was the essence of what I wanted: a good beer from a good brewery, but one which I might otherwise have passed over in lieu of a Belgian or a sour or a double something. One quibble: the bottle collar references “juicy hops”, but I stand by my blind assessment of “some juice but then all resin, all bitter.”
Another way I had thought of doing this was to walk into a bar and order “a beer.” That’s all: just a beer. Surprise me. Everything on tap will be good, or possibly good enough, because I really get paralyzed by the paradox of choice and the fear of missing out. I like that beer, but I know I like it! I am part of The Problem.
My next beer? It’ll be blind.